‘Black Panther’ Actor Michael B. Jordan Is Making a Movie Based on the ‘African Game of Thrones’

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther| Marvel

Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan has purchased the rights to a new book that some have dubbed “an African Game of Thrones,” the Hollywood Reporter revealed Thursday.  

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the fourth novel by Jamaican novelist and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James. It’s the first installment in his planned “Dark Star” trilogy, a fantasy epic inspired by African history and mythology.

What is Black Leopard, Red Wolf about?

In James’s novel, a mercenary named Tracker, whose heightened sense of smell means he has a gift for finding missing people, is hired by a slave trader to find a kidnapped child. He’s accompanied on his quest by a giant, a witch, a shapeshifter and other fantastical creatures. Here’s how the publisher describes what happens next:

As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers — he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

Critics are praising the book

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was released on February 5, has earned high praise from critics. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times described the book as the “literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe” and hailed James’s inventive story and gift for language. Kirkus said the series could be “one of the most talked-about and influential adventure epics since George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.” 

Entertainment Weekly called it a “revolutionary book” and said that James “writes to the very heart of African history, trauma, and imagination,” but also noted that at 620 pages, it is “overlong.” Others noted that a complex plot and dense language might throw off some readers expecting a more conventional story.

Is it really like Game of Thrones?

Marlon James
Marlon James | Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

While Black Leopard, Red Wolf has been compared to the George R.R. Martin fantasy series that is the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones, James has warned would-be readers not to take that comparison too seriously.

In a recent interview with Vulture, the author admitted that he originally made the Game of Thrones comparison “as a joke.” While he said he admired Martin’s work and the way he is able to “take very fantastical elements and put it into very adult story,” he added that he was interested in challenging “a lot of the tropes of medieval fantasy.”

In particular, James said he looked toward African storytelling traditions where tales are often told by an unreliable “trickster” narrator. To that end, future installments of the trilogy will cover the same story as Black Leopard, Red Wolf but will be told from the point of view of different characters.

What we know about the movie adaptation

While Jordan’s production company Outlier Society has bought the rights to Black Leopard, Red Wolf, it’s still too early for news about who might write, direct, or star in the movie.

One thing we do know is that James will be executive producer for the film adaptation. And if the movie does get made, there will be a diverse cast and crew working on the project. Outlier Society was one of the first companies to say it was embracing inclusion riders for its projects, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

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